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Firestarter by Stephen King

Firestarter (original 1980; edition 1981)

by Stephen King

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6,59373574 (3.63)111
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Signet (1981), Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

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Firestarter by Stephen King (1980)


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English (65)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All (73)
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"...the little girl was pyrokinetic- a fire starter."

That girl is Charlie McGee, also described as, "... the little girl in the red pants and the green blouse...". She and her dad Andy are on the run from the Shop, an 'evil' government agency. This is a really good story with a very satisfying climax and ending! Rereading this as a father of a young daughter really changed, and deepened, my appreciation for this book! Also, I did some "tests" in college too, so that really, creepily, deepened my connection with the story, and with Andy. Sadly, I don't have his powers. That I know of... ( )
1 vote Stahl-Ricco | Jun 13, 2017 |
Firestarter, Stephen King

First thoughts:

Great story, fast-paced. I’d call it Horror-Science Fiction.

Story & Fav Plot Points (minor spoilers):

The story begins in the middle, actually, which I thought was an imaginative way of introducing the story and grabbing interest.

Andy and his daughter are on the run. They both have abilities (he, through a psych experiment “gone horribly wrong,” and she through genetics). Andy can make people do what he wants by ‘pushing’ his intention. But he gets major migraines that can cause brain hemorrhaging if he does that too often. His wife, who could close refrigerator doors by thinking about them (now THAT’s convenient!) was killed by “The Shop” (one of those clandestine organizations run by one megalomaniac, who has a money pipeline from Congress – no fiction there), the instigators of the experiment that gave Andy and his wife special abilities The Shop wants for their own nefarious ends.

The daughter has the ability to start fires. Except rather than headaches she gets a rush of pleasure from it!

The story really picks up when they are both captured, after much loss of life and property, to an idyllic ranch where the bad guy lives. But he later rues that day, as King tells us in gory detail about the demise of “The Shop.”

Final Comments:

Great story, how we could chemically induce someone to increase their latent psychic ability and how the government plans to use that for global power. The usual plot (since it’s close to the truth) but imaginatively done.


( )
2 vote James_Mourgos | Dec 22, 2016 |
I'm a fan of many of King's works, and this is one of his earlier books, which are often recognized as being stronger. With that in mind, I had a bit of trouble reconciling why Firestarter did not work for me.

The first 100 pages dragged, to the point where I considered putting the book down and not picking it back up. But I persisted, and was ultimately rewarded with a bit more character development, a reason to care about what was happening in the first place. It was a bit too late, however, and by the time the book reached its third act I was skimming sections, impatient for the book to get to the point it was really building up to the whole time.

Ultimately, there were a lot of interesting concepts being played with here, but the pacing was off, and the character used as the centerpiece (Charlie) wasn't particularly engaging compared to some of King's other leads. ( )
  thebechdelscream | Nov 29, 2016 |
I liked the idea of how little pieces of reality were woven together to form the basis of the novel. Excited to see the movie! ( )
  beebowallace | Oct 27, 2016 |
Having always been a big fan of the film, I was anxious to experience the fire starting abilities of Charlie in book form. Did the book end up leaving a burned imprint in my mind as much as the movie did?

Stephen King's Firestarter, written in his older school style, begins with Charlie and Andy McGee on the run from a company called “The Shop”. The first few chapters are riddled with intriguing flashbacks to fill the reader in on current day situations and up the desperation of the protagonists plight. Multiple point of view is used, showing each persons personal stake in each matter – this was an effective way to pen the novel, working the best for this kind of story. Even though some of the ‘villains’ do actions the reader may not agree with, it’s easier to see why when you’re in their heads.

King writes characters clearly, from the adorable little Charlie to the hardened death-obsessed Rainfield. The relationship between her and the father is endearing, the personal internal issues she struggles through harsh, and the chemistry between everyone brilliant. One thing that made this book soar was the relationships and personal motivations. It wasn’t about starting fires or avoiding putting them out – it was about what these fires meant to each person, and the lives of all. The feelings of the characters is easy to sympathize with; the unfairness of it all spoke volumes and could apply to several situations not involving pyrokinesis issues in real life.

The pacing was concrete as well. From start to finish I kept reading, absorbing the medium pace. Something was always happening, with the flashbacks never hurting interest I held.

King’s style really shines here. While later he can sometimes overdo the writing bit, and earlier on he was a bit short and choppy, here he was at his prime. The words are colorful, not weighed down by senseless description and unneeded detail. Paragraphs flowed together fine, creating a piece that was easy to lose myself into. He avoided overusing huge words that boasted a large vocabulary, yet didn’t keep things so simple it felt like it could have been written by any one other than an exceptional writer.

The gore and violence is not overly heavy, but it’s there when it needs to be, particularly when the Shop is at play and the atrocity of the experiments. The theme of novel is powerful, and the idea behind the fire starting child is impressionable. What most of the world wouldn’t give for a power such as this! (Without the side effects of experimentation and government agencies chasing you from Hell and back, of course.)

The beginning is heady stuff, making emotion strong from the opening line – the ending was a worthy tearjerker that left a heavy feeling in the chest, coated with an ironic realism.

I recommend Firestarter to anyone wanting to test the King waters, fans of King who haven’t yet read it, or fans of reading in general. It’s an emotionally driven story with a unique plot, convincing characters, and strong wrap-up. Buy it for the collection. ( )
1 vote ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
King, Stephenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boutsikaris, DennisReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lahtinen, Aarne T. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Related movies
Awards and honors
"It was a pleasure to burn." -- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
In memory of Shirley Jackson, who never needed to raise her voice.
First words
"Daddy, I'm tired," the little girl in the red pants and the green blouse said fretfully.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
You are about to meet the sweetest, most irresistible little girl you've ever known - 8-year-old Charlie McGee.
She's everything that a proud father like Andy McGee could want - and all that he can fear. For Charlie was born with the most destructive power a human being has ever commanded - and somehow she must be saved from both herself and from those in high places who want to use her as their weapon.

Meet Charlie - and see what happens when innocence and beauty unite with evil and terro.
FIRESTARTER is the mesmerising and menacing story of a sinister government agency, a fateful drug experiment, and a pigtailed girl named Charlie, who has an unimaginably terrifying gift: the power of pyrokinesis.
Haiku summary
Her power's constrained!
No, just seems that way because
thermometers melt.


Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451167805, Mass Market Paperback)

Innocence and beauty ignite with evil and terror as a young girl exhibits signs of a wild and horrifying force.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:32 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Young Charlie McGee is a very special girl. The result of scientific experimentation on her parents, she has the ability to create fires wherever and whenever she chooses, by force of will alone. On the run from sinister government agents with her telekenetic father, she only wants to forget her monstrous abilities, and live a normal life. When the pair are captured, Charlie must decide between saving her father and using her fiery powers at the whim of a government only interested in using her ... as a weapon!… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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